POLICE officers were called out as a village bus shelter was reduced to rubble.

Furious Portesham residents stood by and watched helplessly as the stone shelter – formerly part of a controversial planning application – was demolished.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has now intervened to find out why the demolition took place.

Applicants Mr and Mrs Paul Thomas-Day, of Weymouth, had previously sought planning permission to demolish the shelter, which is outside their property in Bramdon Close.

The application to West Dorset District Council was since declared invalid and has now been withdrawn by the applicants.

Plans to demolish the shelter attracted 180 comments – many from elderly bus passengers who relied upon the shelter to rest in and stay dry while waiting for a bus.

Residents also set up a Save Our Bus Shelter campaign to keep the village facility.

Villager Vaughan Jones said: “I’m totally dumbfounded that this has happened.

“I don’t understand how such an important community facility, which is a real need for the old people who use the bus service, could be jeopardised so easily and so quickly.

“Campaigners have argued that legally the public had overriding interests and rights to access and use the bus shelter which since 1987 has been maintained by the parish council.

“There is great dismay that the developer has taken this pre-emptive action, and there is great disappointment that the district council officials, who could have forestalled this action until the legal position had been clarified beyond doubt, failed to act.

“It’s gone back and forth about whether they needed planning permission to do this.”

Resident Val Hensby said people were ‘puzzled’ and ‘upset’ after the shelter was bulldozed.

“We went through all the right channels to put in our objections to this and the day before the deadline it was knocked down,” she said.

“The next day there were two old ladies standing there in the pouring rain waiting for the bus with their umbrellas up and no shelter. This has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.”

Mr Letwin has written to West Dorset planning head David Evans to find out if any enforcement action will be taken.

He wrote: “It is disturbing that the demolition should have occurred without any apparent resolution of the planning issues.

A district council spokesman said the council has to act within strict rules and regulations and the demolition work did not require planning permission.

He added: “We understand that the removal of the bus shelter at Port-esham has caused some distress to residents of the village, however, the demolition work did not require planning permission or conservation area consent from the district council.

“In accordance with planning laws, the landowner would also be within their rights to build a wall up to one metre in height around the property in their ownership.

“There are strict rules and regulations that the district council, as the local planning authority, has the power to act within.

Mrs Thomas-Day declined to comment on the demolition.